Archive for night to dawn

NIGHT TO DAWN

Posted in art, Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, Egypt, horror writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, Romance, Teresa Tunaley, Tom Johnson, Uncategorized, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN

Night to Dawn is a semi-annual horror magazine put out by Barbara Custer. She goes to some effort to get the best stories, poetry and artwork from around the world. Though an American publication, it often contains stories from as far afield as Australia.

Starting out as primarily a vampire magazine, Night to Dawn has spread its black wings of late into other areas of horror. Tales dealing with zombies, ancient gods, and the Egyptian dead are now most welcome. Egyptian horror has, in fact, appeared in issues 21 and 22. As for what kind of story fits into the magazine, there’s everything from your classic romantic undead piece to a salute to Joe R. Lansdale’s Dead in the West.

Since 22 is the latest issue (It is dated October 2012 but I have an advance copy), I’ll pick out my favorite stories, poetry and illustrations within to give you an idea of the quality of Night to Dawn magazine.

The front cover to 22 is an eye catching red and gold. The illustration by Marge Simon appears to be reminiscent of the Roman era and puts me in mind of a female Roman vampire story I read ages ago. The back cover by Teresa Tunaley shows a female vampire with blood on her lips. The way her eye lids are painted, she might be off to some mardi gras celebration somewhere in the world.

In the editor’s section we learn about the latest round of books being published by Night to Dawn. They include Desk Job by Rod Marsden, City of Brotherly Death by Barbara Custer, and Tom Johnson and James Reasoner’s Jur: A Story of Pre Dawn Earth.

Of the interior illustrations, I am drawn to the third eye effort by David Transue (page 14), the all teeth and eyes freak out by Denny E. Marshall (page 32), and the zombied out mardi gras spectacular by Chris Friend (page 40).

In poetry there’s Tod Hanks’ splendid though traditional take on the vampire, Concubines of the Vampire (pages 6 and 7), Fatale by Cathy Bryant (page 14) which has a nice, bouncy rhythm, and Christmas Eve by Chris Friend (page 39) which is a delightful bit of fun with the spirits of the dead.

Of the tales I liked Rajeev Bhargava’s Mirror, Mirror on my Cellar Wall best. Here we have a touch of Greek mythology with a modern take on a particularly monstrous legend.

Coming up a close second is The Harlots of New Chapel Row by a writer going by the name Horns. It is a to be continued tale of bloody intrigue where lust and keeping up with your mates already goes terribly wrong.

A very close third is The Triangle by Derek Muk which hauls out the Bermuda Triangle for inspection. The suspense builds up in this one making it well worth the read.

For more information on Night to Dawn magazine and books check out these sites:

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/tom-johnsons-sf-and-adventure/jur-a-story-of-pre-dawn-earth/

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/

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THE WIND WITCH!

Posted in Australia, Banshee, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Japan, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Marvel Comics, mythology, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, revenge, Storm, Warlock, Wind Witch, Writer, X Men with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN

COMMANDING THE ELEMENTS

The witch as elemental has been with us a long time. She has been involved in many cultures, past and present, and has crossed over many countries. In Japan she is well known in myth and legend as a terror of the night. In Britain she is best represented by the crazed banshee.

Sometimes the wind witch is a living being. At other times a particular type of ghost that haunts and even destroys the living.

Males of Britain supposedly capable of stirring up winds and thus the sea through supernatural means came to be known as Warlocks, the male equivalent of the female wind witch. This was way back in the 17th Century.

In The Wizard of Oz there are two female witches with elemental powers. One is considered good while the other is bad. A fairly recent stage play, Wicked, has sought to change this rather simplistic view.

Then there is Marvel Comics  Storm – a female mutant with the power to alter the weather. Generally speaking, she is a force for good. Also a force for good is Marvel Comics Banshee. Here tradition is broken in that the Marvel Comics  Banshee is a male mutant rather than a female.

In my novel, Desk Job, there is a Japanese wind witch with the power to disrupt people’s lives and generally to cause havoc in the office where she resides. She is not a creature of harmony but of destruction. Strangely enough, away from the office she is something else. Wind witches can be territorial and may affect nature but their own natures can be affected by their surroundings.  In the right place under the right circumstance there is calm and clear sailing. She has a green thumb and loves gardening. Under other circumstances, of course, the heavy winds stir in her blood and the sound from the witch is furious indeed. Where there is disorder and disunity she will make more of the same. It is what she does and the question arises whether anyone has a right to stop her during one of her rampages.

http://www.amazon.com/Desk-Job-ebook/dp/B008FF7E1K/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1341092241&sr=1-2

 

 

DESK JOB BLURB

Posted in Australia, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, set in Australia, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN

BOOMERANG OF FIRE!

Lewis Carroll’s Alice thought Wonderland was strange. Sarah Hollingsworth knew her adventures in Office-land were twisted and downright bizarre. The office of the 1990s was a hunting ground where the unprotected were bagged and disposed of. The trick was not to be one of them. Hawks flew high, mules slogged away on their computers and praying mantises searched for prey. Butterflies and moths danced in the neon light. And the old caterpillar looked on passively to various unfolding dramas. Meanwhile mall rats and lika-lika birds, growing up in this decade, fervently hoped that everything about the office would become more civilized by the time they had to get a DESK JOB. Whether or not the office has really changed much since the 1990s I will leave to you, dear reader, to decide.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

GHOST DANCE by ROD MARSDEN

Posted in Australia, dark fiction writer, horror writer, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , on August 22, 2010 by ROD MARSDEN

GHOST DANCE

Available through AMAZON and also Night to Dawn

A novel that takes you on an epic journey from Australia to Germany on a quest to save a young man from lycanthropy and also defeat a modern day warlock.

GHOST DANCE

GHOST DANCE 

Introduction

The menace of the vampire has been with us for a very long time. Over the centuries, various societies have developed their own methods of dealing with it. The Japanese in the 17th Century created the Rising Sun Group of specialist ninjas and samurai. In the British Empire and then the British Commonwealth the Secret Compass, an offshoot of Freemasonry, came to the fore. It now has many branches including the Scottish Maclean branch. In and around Greece there were the Greek mystics who eventually formed an alliance with INTERPOL and then with the Sydney, NSW branch of the Secret Compass. In the USA there was the Pinkerton Detective Agency out of Chicago followed by the FBI and the CIA. Over time such organizations have come to share information, resources and even personnel in the continuing fight.

The events mentioned in this book primarily take place in 1975. The events of the previous novel, Disco Evil: Dead Man’s Stand, take place between the years 1976 and 2010.

In 1975 Lilith and Paul Priestly can be seen at The Blue, an inner Sydney disco but have yet to meet up and form an alliance. Lizzy, Miles Henry’s niece, can also be seen doing her thing at The Blue. Her fate has yet to be sealed. It will be soon enough in 1976.

Helen Kiln, a Secret Compass psychic, knows The Blue in 1975 as a place that might attract the undead. Miles Henry and Frank Long are field agent partners in the Sydney branch of the Secret Compass and have worked together off and on since the Korean War. They are both attracted to Helen. Miles and Long, however, are not the only field agents working for the Secret Compass.

Note:

“Bring back the buffalo,” was the cry and the hope of a generation of North American Indians. “Bring back love and hope,” was the cry of a different people of a different generation. It was more universal but just as heart-felt. Both people, both generations thought they could do it through music and movement. They thought the Great Spirit would weave magic their way and it would be done. They were wrong. Both are examples of the now traditional ‘GHOST DANCE’.

There is, however, another version that is just as well known and just as traditional. It is part of Mardi Gras and the Venetian Carnivale. In both instances it evokes the meeting of two worlds – the living and the dead. Both sides are masked. Both sides are to be revealed. If properly executed, it is quite a powerful dance and the results are totally unpredictable. It is the dance of the present, the past and the future. It can be joyful or the complete opposite. It is the dance of the living hand-in-hand with the dead. At such events the ungodly need to be wary.

If Helen Kiln wanted a quiet, no-nonsense life she should never have become a psychic for the PSI division of the Sydney, Australia branch of the Secret Compass. Of late there were ghosts to sort out, vampires on the loose, a Gypsy warning to heed and a young man becoming a monster to befriend. With any luck she’d get in her morning cup of coffee and donuts!

Frank Burkhard, the young man, and Petra Card, a female vampire, were expected in Worms (Voems), Germany where they were hopefully going to save the world. There was also a warlock out to save humanity by killing off a lot of people. In all of this Helen could envisage, through her powers, a dead man about to make a stand. Helen knew this for a certainty. It just wasn’t clear to her who it was going to be.

Rod Marsden

Check out Disco Evil: Dead Man’s Stand by Rod Marsden….published through Night to Dawn and available right now through Amazon.com.

Also check out Undead Reb Down Under Tales by Rod Marsden…published through Night to Dawn and available right now through Amazon.com.

….For a short story with bite there is a tale by Rod Marsden coming out in the next issue of the vampire magazine Night to Dawn which will be out shortly.

Night to Dawn

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/ghost-dance-excerpt-reviews/

BIO ROD MARSDEN VAMPIREBIRDIE

Posted in Australia, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, London, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, New York, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, Romance, set in Australia, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
art by Rod Marsden

A fanciful medieval style set of glass panels in an ancient church

Bio: Rod Marsden

Rod Marsden was born in Sydney, Australia. His very early influences were his father, Charles, who taught him how to fish and how to appreciate nature and his mother, May, who helped him to value the written word. Other early influences include writer Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Gene Colan. He has three degrees; all related to writing and to his other passion, history. His stories have been published in Australia, England, Russia and the USA. His written work includes short stories in Cats Do it Better. Undead Reb Down Under and Other Vampire Stories is a collection of his stories on vampirism. His novel Disco Evil: Dead Man’s Stand is his first venture into the vampire novel. His  Ghost Dance is his first go at a dark quest style novel. His Desk Job is a salute to Lewis Carroll and some indication of how insane life got in the office in the mid-1990s.

Back in the 1970s, Rod took a trip to the USA and still has fond memories of his time in New York and San Francisco. He also visited Bali way back in the 1970s.  He would love to visit Britain and this desire does appear in his work.

Rod Lives on the South Coast of NSW, Australia and still occasionally puts a line in the water. He has a fondness for the Wollongong area but an abiding love for the more northern Clarence River region of his home state.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/

THE TERRORS OF THE NIGHT

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, horror writer, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, pulp fiction writer, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
VAMPYRE

VAMPIRE!

In Magazines such as Barbara Custer’s Night to Dawn there are tales that mostly take place at night. There you will also find the kind of nightly terrors that have been with humanity for centuries.

One of the oldest of the night terrors is the vampire. It has been suggested to me that the male of the species began his run in Ancient Egypt. Certainly the female is best known in Eastern Europe and it was only in the 19th Century that the male began to become popular as a fictional horror in Europe.

The werewolf was always male and the first signs of the female of the species came about in the 20th Century.

The vampire was a more persuasive evil and the werewolf was more or less an out-of-control creature, as much a victim of wrong doing as he was a victimizer.

Since the 19th Century, male vampires have walked the earth and certainly in the 20th Century there have been  packs of female werewolves on the hunt in such places as the somewhat ill-conceived Howling movie series and the much better orchestrated Ginger Snaps series.

Nevertheless, tradition in our Judaic-Christian world has it that females are more likely to bare the fangs to drink blood whereas males are more likely to bare fangs to rip flesh apart. To discover just how this came about and why things changed a journey back through time is required – a journey hazardous and filled with much horror both real and imagined.

Possibly the earliest story with the female menace takes place in the biblical Garden of Eden. To celebrate the coming of Adam and Eve to this very special place, God has invited all the truly important angels to a grand party. All are invited, that is, save one who takes the slight very much to heart. She doesn’t say anything to God but bides her time. She will have her revenge.

Soon after the party, the serpent and the apple incident occurs. Adam and Eve are thus banished from the garden and, some time later, the vindictive angel, whom we must now consider to be fallen and thus a demon makes her move. One of the daughters of Eve is seduced by a very special kiss and reciprocates. And, by reciprocating, this daughter of Eve becomes the first official vampire.

Why did it have to be a daughter rather than a son of Eve who reciprocated? The answer is somewhat unpleasant in that it is couched in male ego and general lack of faith in the overall goodness of the female.

The idea that women are spiritually weaker than men and are thus more likely to fall to temptation has its ludicrous aspects in today’s world. It was, however, strongly believed by our ancestors. Proof of this can be read in The Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch Hammer) of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger (modern translation by the reverend Montague Summers, Dover publications, New York, 1971 edition). First published in Europe around 1486, this work for three centuries became the standard legal document on the way witch hunters and court judges were to seek out and deal with witchcraft. Thanks to The Malleus Maleficarum and other similar writings, more women were suspected, persecuted, prosecuted, tortured and burnt than men for crimes it would have been impossible for them to have actually committed.

Also, there is a stronger connection between bad blood in the female than in the male. In the days when hygiene was neither well considered nor well practiced, too many young women did not survive their first menstrual cycle. Living in filthy conditions, they died of diseases that we presently would consider highly preventable. Certainly, in quite a few cases, a little soap and water would have done wonders. All this seems so very far away from us now but, in some parts of Europe, menstruation is still referred to as Eve’s Blight and is held up as evidence of the female’s guilt in our collective fall from grace. For most of us, however, science has convinced us over the centuries that the monthly bleeding is natural and proper rather than vile and wicked. Still, in the 19th Century, the spread of venereal disease in England, also something to do with the blood, was most firmly blamed on female prostitutes plying their trade rather than their roving male clients.

 In the West in the 1920s, during the Jazz age, a new, exciting breed of woman emerged which would challenge much of what has come before. They were young, independent and not afraid to go after the things they wanted in life. They wore black make-up, dressed in black leather and called themselves Vamps. The Vamp was obviously short for Vampire since they did, for the most part; think of themselves as female night creatures. They frowned upon the traditional woman’s role and made the night clubs of Europe and the USA their own.

Nowadays they are best remembered through the marvelous period photographs of German photographer Manray. Their fiery spirit, however, lives on and is appreciated in the present day female Goth and in the continuing appeal of D. C. Comics’ Catwoman –  the latter coming into existence in the 1940s and going strong ever.

During the 1960s, the live action Batman series, starring Adam West, often had as guest villain the Catwoman. She was first played by Julie Newmar who, incidentally, had earlier acted the role of a cat transformed by magic into a woman in the television series Bewitched. Being a cat seemed to come natural to Newmar and the black glittery jump suit she wore suited her well. There was something wonderful in the way she teased the somewhat stuck-up and pretentious Batman. Never quite evil but never really good, she was, as she is today, somewhat of an enigma.

The first feline to star in a Batman movie was Lee Meriwether who toyed wonderfully with West’s Batman in very much the tradition established by Newmar. And, like Newmar, she had long sexy legs and could really move.

In the 1992 hit, Batman Returns, Michelle Pfeifer lends both vigor and substance to the Catwoman, thus reinvigorating and reinventing her for a new generation of fans. This time the costume is more leathery black than glittery, like the Vamps of the 1920s, and the whip much more prominent. She is less playful but, when she does play, there is that element of wonderful danger in her doing so. Pfeifer as the cat is just as likely, for example, to lick Batman’s face as try to claw him to death.

Halle Berry, who stars in Catwoman (2004), very much blends all that had come before her in her portrait of a human cat yet, at the same time, she is quite rightly her own feline. She has the playfulness of Newmar and Meriwether and, at the same time, the elements of unpredictability that made Pfeifer’s night creature so captivating. New is the element of destiny connected with the ancient cat worship of the Egyptians and with the notion that there had been catwomen before and that it is an ongoing thing. Also, unlike earlier cats, she does, at last, have superhuman abilities. She can, for example, land on her feet after being pushed from a balcony just like a real feline.

Why then has the Catwoman proved herself to be such a continuing force in the world of fiction? Could it be that, since the wolf is related to the dog, the cat is more of a tease to, and a menace to, the male of the species than the female vampire? There was a Batgirl in West’s Batman series but, despite a tight outfit and a come-hither smile, she didn’t prove to be as popular with the fans as the various incarnations of Catwoman. Why was this? Perhaps she was simply too much of a goody-two-shoes and also too much of a girl and not enough of a woman with all the complications that implies – the complications that could be seen in the 1920s Vamp.

The oldest known story of Lycanthropy, or wolfish behavior by a man-creature, is the cautionary children’s classic Little Red Riding Hood. Here a talking wolf eats a little girl and her grandma. He does this through cunning as well as violence. The consumed pair are eventually rescued when a woodsman slices the wolf’s stomach open thus releasing them. Somehow the wolf survives this gutting and, as a final act of revenge upon the creature, the woodsman fills its stomach with rocks, sews them into place and throws the now very unfortunate beast into a nearby stream where it frowns.

There are numerous reasons why the werewolf came about and why he continues to play such an active role in our collective imagination. It is known, for example, that in many parts of the world, during the stone age and beyond, men were want to dress in animal fur to hunt wild game. The choice of fur was usually that of an animal admired for its ability to perform well in bringing down its prey. The psychology behind this is simple, effective and is still practiced, in numerous ways, in various societies to this very day. In donning a wolf skin, for example, the hunter becomes imbued with the spirit of the wolf and thus becomes a more cunning and resourceful hunter.

During the dark ages, Viking warriors would have on board their dragon long boats a berserker – a man who, when dressed in a bearskin, would kill the enemy remorselessly and without fear of personal injury. He would in a very real sense become the savage bear. During World War Two, American fighter pilots working for the Chinese government painted fierce tiger faces on their P40s to not only frighten their Japanese counterparts but to presumably imbue themselves with the tiger’s strength. Near the end of this war, there was a group of German teenage boys and old men who performed acts of sabotage against American units coming into Germany. They took the wolf as their symbol of resistance and referred to themselves as werewolves.

In present day Australia, there’s a popular rugby league club that refers to itself as The Dragons and another that refers to itself as The Bulldogs. What’s more, it is not uncommon, throughout the Western World, for such clubs to have mascots dressed as their representative animals in the way of imbuing the spectators as well as the players during the games with team spirit.

A less pleasant aspect of the werewolf is cannibalism. At given times, during much of human history, human beings have been forced into the eating of their fellow humans. As late as the 19th Century, Irish peasants, due to widespread famine and zero relief from uncaring English overlords, resorted to the partaking of the flesh of their dead in order to survive. It is only in the 20th and 21st Centuries that man has managed to do away almost completely with this vile and up to now necessary practice. Presently, it is only the occasional madman who thus indulges and it is in such madmen we glimpse the dread face of the wolf within. This particular visage has been around since the dawn of our existence and shows no sigh of ever completely going away. The 19th Century serial killer of White Chapel in London, known as Jack the Ripper, for example, showed at least one element of true lycanthropy when he mentioned, in a newspaper letter, of the tasting of part of one of his female victim’s organs. In 1919, a German butcher sold meat to starving Berlin customers that turned out to be human flesh.

The werewolf has long been associated with the full moon and with the madness the full moon can supposedly bring. It is not by accident that the word lunatic comes from the word Luna which is another name for the moon. In certain European mythology the moon is represented by the huntress Dianna – she who strides across the sky at night. Does this then make the werewolf both the subject and victim of a long ago Goddess? It is, after all, considered true that a good man that says his prayers at night, once bitten or scratched by a werewolf, will invariably become one during the next full moon.

Lastly, another cause for the belief in the werewolf comes from a rare though well documented physical state in which the person affected grows more body hair than is considered normal on your average human being. It is a genetic anomaly and, apart from making the victim appear unusual, it has no side-effects this writer is aware of. Examples of this condition can be seen in side-show freaks such as the bearded lady and the dog-faced boy.

In the first half of the 19th Century the Penny Dreadfuls of both England and France boosted female readership interest in the vampire by making him predominantly male rather than female. Decades later, Irish writer Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, which was based roughly on Eastern European folklore, became an international hit. In doing so it firmly set the stage for the dominance of the male vampire over the female for the next century.

Directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi, the 1931 Hollywood film version of Bram Stoker’s great vampire tale also proved to be popular. It did, however, run into a significant censorship problem. For its release, a scene involving three rather seductive looking female vampires vamping it up in the best of the Vamp style of the 1920s, had to be cut. Unfortunately, all that remains of it are a few publicity stills that give the impression that the women were young, beautiful and empowered. In other words, they were way too much of a scare for the censorship boys of the day.

Britain’s Hammer Studios in the 1960s and early ‘70s brought a new and dynamic look to the character of Dracula with a whole slew of films starring Christopher Lee as the immortal blood-sucking fiend. Lee in the role dominated the screen as well as his female victims which, incidentally, included some of the most beautiful actresses ever to be captured, so to speak, on film.

In some ways Hammer proved to be more innovative than Hollywood. Here the female vampire was allowed, once more, to come fully to the fore in such productions as Twins of Evil and Vampire Lovers.

For some reason. Italian films of the period showed a preference for the female vampire and had her soaring high like never before. She became vivacious, daring and very sexy. She was, to some extent, the go-go dancer with fangs.

Based on Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, the French film Blood and Roses came out in 1960. To this day, this writer finds both the storyline and the female cast haunting in ways difficult to describe. Suffice to say it seduces this male in more ways than one and remains a treasure of late night viewing worthy to be sought after on both video and DVD.

Believe it or not, vampires have occasionally come from outer space. Starring John Saxon and Florence Marly, The Planet of Blood (USA, 1966), has an alien female blood drinker making her way to Earth in a rocket. She has her eggs to protect and a new planet to conquer. Here cheap science fiction meets psychological horror (trust me most men would find a large scale breeding program run by a strange woman pretty scary).

An unlikely, success story starting its reign in 1996, was the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as the young woman with the unusual calling, it ran for a glorious seven seasons. Crisp scriptwriting with a profound understanding of teenage growing pains, coupled with dynamic characterization and with brilliant special effects, soon elevated it to cult status not only among teenagers but adults as well. Here vampires could be both good and evil. Redemption for the undead was possible. Heroes whether slayers (something invented by Joss Whedon), witches or vampires, could slip from grace and then re-emerge into the light or, in the case of the repentant blood sucker, the semi-darkness.

Of the vampires in the show, the ones that will best be remembered are Drucilla, the hauntingly beautiful and quite insane Vamp-like ‘Princess’ of Spike, Darla because she was the first to appear and the first to actually fall pregnant though on another show, and Spike whose punk-like ways and ongoing character development was well realized.

In 1999, Angel, a spin-off television series starring David Boereanaz, had its first season run. It is based on the premise of a male vampire with a soul going to a big, bad city (Los Angeles) to make-up for the past wrongs he committed when he was a soulless fiend. It is fair to say that not until the third season did it begin to sprout independent wings of its own and fly high.

In the last two hundred years, the werewolf in fiction has gone through quite a few changes. In the 19th Century, Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, introduced a new aspect to man into monster. Here the man, Dr Jekyll, transforms into the monster, Hyde, not through the bite or scratch of another victim of lycanthropy plus the rise of the full moon but through a formula he had himself created. The innocence, however, remains since the notion behind the formula was to remove the impulse to do evil from man rather than to bring it brimming to the surface. In other words, Hyde is a horrible accident, a terrible mistake on the part of someone seeking to do good. This indicates that, even in the best of us, there lurks something dark which is savage, bestial and requiring chains of the mind to keep in check. Once the chains snap, however, the hair and fangs sprout, the killer sadist is unleashed and the hunt begins.

Celebrated American actor Frederic March made the role of both Jekyll and Hyde his own in the 1932 academy award winning film version of the Stevenson masterpiece. There have been numerous other film adaptations, some quite bizarre. A British contender for just plain weird, titled Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde has a mild-mannered business man transformed by the infamous formula not into a hairy brute but into a voluptuous and very dangerous femme fatale.

Another 19th Century masterpiece which gave rise to a different view on man into beast was Oscar Wilde’s novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. In essence, it was about a young man who has his portrait painted and, through the magic of the painter’s brush, the painting ages whereas the young man doesn’t. What’s more, the evil done by the young man passes to the picture, leaving Gray’s appearance, despite what wrong doing he performs, completely without blemish. Here the beast, free to come out to play when ever it likes and as completely as it would wish to, does so and only through the painting can the world know of it having done so. According to The Horror Film by Ivan Butler ( A. Zwemmer Limited, London publication, 1967), an excellent movie version, directed by Albert Lewin, was made in 1945.

As for the moon inspired beast, the Universal 1941 movie, The Wolf-Man, starring Lon Chaney Jr., remains a favorite among horror fans as much for the early special effects as for the great script. Here the innocence of the man who becomes a wolf-being is reinforced by the words of a compassionate old gypsy woman and by the actions of the cursed man to prevent himself harming others during the full moon. Of course he fails and must die. Still, the fact that he tried should and does count for something in the end.

Other Universal films featuring the Wolf-Man followed including two comedies starring Abbott and Costello. Here warnings from the man who becomes the wolf-creature go unheeded resulting in humorous moments when the beast within comes out. There were also meetings between the Wolf-Man and Dracula usually resulting in a terrific battle between the two. Certainly, in the days of black and white cinema, the general rule was that wolf-things and bat-creatures just didn’t get along very well. The sensual and somewhat regal victimizer of mostly females just couldn’t form any kind of lasting relationship with what was essentially Mr Slash and Rip.

In 1981, An American Werewolf in London hit the cinema. Here teenage angst meets inner wolf in a film that mixes well horror/comedy with visual metaphor and up-to-date special effects magic. A young man (David Naughton) while visiting the English countryside is attacked by what he believes at first to be a wolf. He survives the mauling and, come the full moon, sprouts plenty of fur. What’s more, for the first time in cinematic history, the wolf-being actually looks convincing.

For the past thirty years, British author Terry Pratchett has enthralled fantasy readers with his wickedly funny series of discworld novels. Here, in these books about a flat planet, things such as political correctness are savagely sent-up through wizards, witches, werewolves and vampires. Here what is so right and what is so wrong with our collective views on mythological creatures such as the vampire and the werewolf can be lightheartedly explored with the true winners in the long run being Pratchett’s own loyal readership.

So what then is the future of both the vampire and the werewolf? Perhaps two recent movies provide some clues.

Based on a graphic novel by the same name, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen came out in 2003 demonstrating, in its wake, new possibilities for the cinema for traditional monsters. The league, made up of a female vampire, the at first enigmatic Dorian Gray, Hyde, an invisible man, a British game hunter/adventurer and an American sharp-shooter, find themselves on the trail of a menace who calls himself The Phantom no doubt after the Phantom of the Opera. During their adventure together, the league discover a traitor in their midst. Not so surprising, it turns out to be Gray. Eventually, a battle royal takes place between lady vampire and handsome man of consummate evil. Here a female vampire, preferring to drink of the wicked, clashes with a foul thing whose crimes is only revealed in his portrait. Perhaps this is, in a sense, vampire versus werewolf?

In 2004, a movie starring Australian actor Hugh Jackman made its way to the cinema, receiving mixed reactions from horror fans. It was called Van Helsing and is not only a marvelous tribute to the Universal horror films of the 1930s and ‘40s, but the possible way forward for both vampire and werewolf. The vampires found within, including Dracula, are complex. The werewolf remains basically the same as he always was, an innocent man trapped in a situation not of his own choosing with but one very good twist. In this epic the werewolf is the direct opposite number to the vampire and thus has the mystical power to destroy the lead vampire, Dracula. It is perhaps a power the man-into-wolf has wanted, even needed for decades.

Will there be more cinematic clashes between vampire and werewolf? Will there be more female vampires and male werewolves and less of a mixture? Only time which is the enemy of the man-beast who is bound by it and the friend of the vampire who is not so bound, will, in the end, tell.

For modern vampire action please do check out Disco Evil and Ghost Dance.

For modern vampire and werewolf action do check out Ghost Dance.

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